Is Palestine “two-statism” a cop-out?

3 Feb

Reading her post yesterday I found myself in rare – though not unprecedented 1 – dissent from a Caitlin Johnstone I hold in high regard. In it she listed Five things liberals say to avoid taking a real position on Gaza:

1. “It’s heartbreaking!”

2. “It’s complicated!”


4. “I really hope there can be peace there someday!”

5. “I support a two-state solution!”

You can check out her reasoning for the first four. I won’t replicate it since I fully concur. Only the fifth do I find problematic:

The “two-state solution” is functionally just a psychological box that liberals mentally tick off so they can pretend they have a real position on Israel-Palestine …

This is true if we leave out that word, just.  And I may be adding two and two to get five here, in laying claims at Caitlin’s door she doesn’t actually make. But the point is worth making anyway, that misuse by fools or worse of an idea for flaky reasons does not of itself put the idea beyond the pale. As a matter of realpolitik  both Russia and China support a two state solution and, for reasons I’ve set out often – here for instance – I view Eurasia’s rise and America’s decline as offering, for all the attendant dangers, the best way forward. Not just for a global south which surely includes the Palestinian people, but for humanity at large.

I’d never accuse Caitlin of petty point scoring. That is so not her, as I say in my post of a week ago: What of ideology when reality intrudes?

She has a rare talent (combined with a big heart, without which talent is a small and shrivelled thing) for voicing counterintuitive truths … in ways that seem plain common sense.

I can’t make the same claim, alas, for all who raise the flag of Palestinian Liberation. No “ism” is so pure it lifts its adherents above the small-minded, mean-spirited, cold-hearted calculations of our raging egos. Such yah-boo stand-offs are a case in point:

“Are you a one-stater like Us, or a dirty low-down two-state scumbag like Them?”

Moving on …

Israeli leaders publicly spit on the notion of a Palestinian state with its own military and national sovereignty, and there is no political wherewithal to make such a thing happen.

For the most part true, though the wherewithal to make a two state solution – which might at its own chosen speed evolve into one state – may be one product of a world order mutating faster than any of us thought possible.

In any case pot, kettle and black spring to mind. That current lack of political wherewithal is no less applicable to the one state solution than the two.

It’s nothing more than a conceptual construct which lets liberals feel nice about their personal politics without actually taking a stand against the western-backed tyrannical power structure that is the state of Israel.

My objection here is to those first few words. Far from being a “nothing more than”, a two state solution is the official position, I repeat, of two of the world’s most powerful – and ascendant – states, both of them vilified by the phony democracies of the West, though seldom for the crime of hand-wringing, bleeding-heart liberalism!

In reality there cannot be peace until Israel ceases to be an abusive apartheid ethnostate, until it and its allies pay massive reparations to the Palestinians, and until all the wrongs of the past are made right. This is entirely possible, but it would be a massive, massive effort toward a goal that would make the current status quo of Israel-Palestine completely unrecognizable from what it currently is.

I agree, but as far as the one-state-or-two question is concerned, this is a non sequitur.

Merely flicking an intellectual thumbs-up to empty notions about a “two-state solution” is just more liberal psychological compartmentalization.

I think I already covered this. Anyways, must dash. I want to get to this morning’s Gaza Rally in Sheffield, and haven’t yet figured out where and when it starts. Heigh-ho …


I just learned there’s no Sheffield protest but a BDS calling out of Waitrose at 13:15. That being close to Steel City House, I had time to watch this 31:39 interview of the Grayzone’s uncannily well informed Max Blumenthal by yet another gamekeeper turned poacher, one Judge Andrew Napolitano.

At one point, apropos the Israeli death squad dressed to kill as medics in a Gaza hospital, Max alludes to a gallows humour ever present in horrific circumstances: in this case a saying, much aired in Palestinian circles, that Israeli accusations are all confessions.

The same could be said of Washington’s. Take the 40 year sentence – an example for all who would expose US war crimes, and a taster of what will befall Julian should the High Court on February 20-21 remove the final obstacle to his extradition to the USA – handed down to Joshua Schulte for allegedly – the case is weak – supplying documents to WikiLeaks re CIA hacking and global spying operations. In its coverage, WSWS cites the leaked material as its basis for saying:

… everything the US government has accused other states such as Russia and China of doing in relation to cyber-hacking, the CIA has done far more extensively and successfully.

* * *

  1. In last week’s ideology post, also cited in the main text above, I wrote:

    … the one time I took issue with Caitlin was when she opined that people had finally seen through the propaganda blitz on Syria, and this had stymied the regime change plans of the West. I beg to differ. What stymied those plans was Russia’s armed intervention.

    This difference flows from a broader one. Caitlin often says real change will come when the scales fall from the eyes of a deluded people, whereas I see that as necessary but insufficient. This is too big a subject for today though, and Caitlin does a stellar job of skewering the cant and disinformation of a rotten status quo and its supine media.

7 Replies to “Is Palestine “two-statism” a cop-out?

  1. It looks as though ‘Two State’ is the only game currently in town – but the practicalities of clearing the West Bank of around 800,000 armed and highly motivated (Alistair Crooke describes them as fanatical zealots) settlers look a bit daunting.

    • Well you know Bryan I’m not so much advancing a two-state argument – I’d need more detailed and comprehensive arguments to do that – as disputing any notion that those who do so are ipso facto cowards and fence-sitters or worse.

      Writing as I do has exposed me to a few downsides of ‘counter-culture’. One being the endless capacity of adolescents of all ages to draw ideological red lines – Covid … 9/11 … the nature of China … – all over the place. I see it a sure-fire indicator of a person more interested in Being Right (or In the Right Club) than in change for the better.

      Again I stress that this is not Caitlin. I’m simply correcting what I see as a rare ambiguity in one of her formulations!

  2. One state or two state is a real issue regardless of accusations being slung around about cowardice and fence sitting. The former has crucial support from Russia and China but seems impractical, the latter would restore Palestinian sovereignty…. but seems impracticable. Either would seem to involve much bloodshed. It is scandalous that the collective west has allowed this situation to develop. I have no idea what should be done for the best.

  3. Quite a lot of Palestinians would agree with Caitlin. A friend of mine who lives in the West bank is convinced that the Two-state solution is now impossible, because of the fragmentation of the occupied territory by Jewish settler outposts. Without removing the settlements, there can be no Palestinian state. Since he lives there, he is a much better position than I to judge this, so I take his word for it. In his view a shared secular state is the only way forward.

    Two states is superficially appealing, but isn’t it really a sort of ‘bantustan’ solution where all the valuable, productive areas are kept by the settler-colonial state, while the Palestinians are forced into the worthless bits? In effect it rewards the policy of driving the Palestinians out and seizing their land. Israel would be more unstable as any settler removal would cause huge division, and internal strife. Since Israel will never ‘feel safe’ if a genuine, independent and self-sustaining Palestinian state borders them, they will ensure that it continues as a sort of vassal territory indirectly under their control. Some arrangement whereby a UN patrolled zone is created between them will only happen if all the land for that zone is taken from the Palestinian portion. So the Palestinians would end up with a dependent micro-state overlooked by a highly aggressive, unstable armed neighbour that controls most of the access. A slight improvement on the position they have now, but not a viable long term solution, because that requires justice and fair treatment, and if they are to have their own segregated state, genuine independence.

    The world needs to agree that a state based on apartheid, where non- Jewish citizens have lesser rights, should not be acceptable. Equally, the fears of Jewish people are based on real and terrible historical experience, so providing security for those of the Jewish faith is necessary. This should not require a separate, segregated state. Implanting such a state artificially where it is surrounded by potential threats seems like the perfect way to induce paranoia and intense defensive aggression in a population.

    A single, secular a state where all citizens are equal, and rights of religious practice managed and protected, and shared sites are looked after respectfully by joint institutions is probably the only long term solution. A permanent UN presence might be necessary to provide a monitoring and mediation function.

    • I note a tendency in some circles – not you as far as I can tell – to red-line the one state or two question:

      Are you a one-stater like Us, or a dirty lowdown two-state scumbag like Them?

      I’ve no baked-in position to defend. I come at this in a realpolitik spirit. To repeat, Russia and China – on which you and I differ radically – back a two-state solution but, again, two states could evolve, further down the road, into one. Just as post Good Friday economic progress has made a United Ireland less unthinkable than during the “Troubles”, so might Belt & Road make a one (secular) state solution in the ‘Holy Land’ more attractive to Israeli Jews who did not flee to claim other citizenships.

      The terrible experiences you speak of are rooted in Europe, not the Middle East. With America’s fundamentalist drive to divide the region weakened – ditto the Greater Israel fanatics – the truth that Palestinians fight Jews not as Jews but as usurpers and occupiers would be more apparent.

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